Ohio State Football is set to take on the University of Southern California in what should be one of the better bowl games. Per usual, Ohio State is loaded with NFL talent, while USC on the other hand may have the number one pick in the 2018 NFL Draft under center. This should be a close game, but it depends on which Ohio State offense shows up.
It was an interesting year for the Buckeyes to say the least. At times this looked like one of the best teams in the nation, and then other times Ohio State looked completely overmatched by blue blood programs like Oklahoma and sometimes even by significantly inferior teams like Iowa.
Year after year Ohio State brings in several four and five-star recruits, so the Buckeyes have the talent to compete with the best of the best, but ever since Ohio State won the national championship in 2014 and offensive coordinator Tom Herman departed, the Buckeyes offense has looked scared in big games.
Against Oklahoma and Michigan this year, Ohio State was hesitant to throw the football, and even more hesitant to throw it down the field. One would think this means they just handed the ball off to their running backs time and time again in these games. However, despite having two very talented running backs in freshman J.K. Dobbins and sophomore Mike Weber, most of their runs came from senior quarterback J.T. Barrett.
This trend of running Barrett into the ground in important games can be traced back all the way to when Ohio State lost to Michigan State in 2015. Running back Ezekiel Elliott then came out and made it clear that he was unhappy of his lack of touches. That loss deserved to be pinned on head coach Urban Meyer and his offensive staff, so Elliott had every right to be upset.
After that fateful loss against the Spartans, you would think this would not still be a problem in 2017, but it has continued to be a major one. If Ohio State shows up scared against USC and runs Barrett up the middle on most of their plays, they could get dominated by the Trojans, but this year I have also seen an Ohio State team capable of beating USC by double digits.
Penn State’s defense was one of the best in the country this year, but when they visited Columbus, Barrett and company made that unit look average at best. The Ohio State offense did start slow due to a few turnovers, but near the end of the first half the Buckeyes’ offense began to roll.
They ran the ball well and connected on short passes which left the Nittany Lions’ defense vulnerable, and in the second half Ohio State took advantage and connected on a few shots down the field.
This game showed the potential of the Ohio State offense. When the Buckeyes diversify their play calling and run Barrett on timely occasions, this offense can score on any defense in America, but when they simplify their play calling, they become very predictable.
The defense will come to play against USC, and if the offense can keep the Trojan defense guessing, Ohio State will have a great chance of going 12-2 this year.
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